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[Aristotle,_Roger_Crisp]_Nicomachean_Ethics_(Cambr(BookFi)

Nicomachean Ethics 1123b Chapter 3 Greatness of soul also seems from its name to be concerned with great things; let us ®rst try to grasp what sort. It makes no difference whether we consider the state or the person characterized by it. A person is thought to be great-souled if he thinks himself worthy of great things ± and is indeed worthy of them (anyone who thinks like this when he is not worthy is a fool, and no one who lives in accordance with virtue is foolish or senseless); the great-souled person, then, is as we have described. The person who is worthy of little and thinks himself to be such is temperate, but not great-souled; for greatness of soul implies grandness of scale, as beauty implies grandeur of body, and small people can be pretty and well-proportioned, but not beautiful. Someone who thinks himself worthy of great things when he is not is vain; but not everyone who thinks himself worthy of greater things than he is worthy of is vain. Someone who thinks himself worthy of lesser things than he is worthy of, however, is small-souled, whether he is in fact worthy of either great or ordinary things, or even whether he is worthy of small things but thinks himself worthy of yet smaller ones. The most small-souled would seem to be the one who is worthy of great things: what would he have done if he had not in fact been worthy of so much? The great-souled person, then, is an extreme with regard to the grandness of his claims, but a mean with regard to their correctness; for he reckons his own worth in accordance with his real merit, while the others are excessive and de®cient. If, then, he thinks himself worthy of great things ± and above all the greatest ± and if he is indeed so, he will be concerned with one thing in particular. Worth is spoken of with reference to external goods; and the greatest external good we should assume to be what we render to the gods, the good most aimed at by people of worth, the prize for the noblest achievements. Such is honour, since it is indeed the greatest external good. The great-souled person, then, is concerned with honours and dishonours in the right way. In fact, it is obvious even without argument that great-souled people are concerned with honour; for it is honour most of all that they think themselves worthy of, and this accords with their real worth. The smallsouled person falls short both in relation to his own worth and the great-souled person's estimate of his own worth, while the vain person 68

Book IV goes to excess in relation to his own worth, but his claims are not excessive in relation to the great-souled person. The great-souled person, since he is worthy of the greatest things, must be the best person of all. For the better a person is, the greater the things he is worthy of, and the best will be worthy of the greatest things; so the truly great-souled person must be good. Again, greatness in every virtue would seem to be a characteristic of a great-souled person. It would be quite un®tting for him to run away with his arms swinging, or to commit an injustice. For what could prompt someone like this, to whom nothing is great, to act disgracefully? If one considers particular cases, it becomes obvious that the notion of a great-souled person who is not good is quite ridiculous. Nor would he be worthy of honour if he were bad, since honour is the prize of virtue, and it is conferred on those who are good. Greatness of soul, then, seems to be a sort of crown of the virtues, because it makes them greater and does not occur in isolation from them. This is why it is hard to be truly great-souled, since it is not possible without a noble and good character. It is primarily with honours and dishonours, then, that the greatsouled person is concerned. He will be pleased in a moderate way at great honours conferred by good people, thinking that he is getting what he deserves, or even less than he deserves, because there could be no honour worthy of total virtue. Nevertheless, he will accept such honours, on the ground that they have nothing greater to confer on him. But honour conferred by ordinary people or for unimportant reasons he will utterly despise, since it is beneath him. The same goes for dishonour, because it could not with justice be attributed to him. Primarily, then, as we have said, the great-souled person will be concerned with honours, but he will also take a moderate view of wealth, power, and all kinds of good and bad fortune, whatever happens, in the sense that he will neither be excessively happy at good fortune nor excessively distressed at bad fortune. For he does not even view honour as a terribly important thing. Power and wealth are to be chosen for the honour they bring ± at any rate, those who have them wish to be honoured on their account; thus, if honour matters little to a person, so will the rest. This is why great-souled people are thought to be supercilious. The advantages of fortune, however, do seem to contribute to great- 69 1124a

(Hackett Classics) Aristotle, C. D. C. Reeve (Trans.)-Nicomachean Ethics-Hackett Publishing (2014)
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